Stunt Pilot. Born Paul Albert Mantz in Alameda, California, the son of a school principal, he joined the Army Air Corps and was regarded a brilliant student pilot until he was discharged for reckless flying in 1927.
After running an air charter service, he was enlisted as a stunt pilot for 1930's ‘Hell's Angels.' After several years with the motion picture industry, he formed United Air Services, Ltd., which provided planes and pilots for aerial stunts and photography for all the various studios. He founded a flying school with Amelia Earhart and was a technical adviser for her planned around-the-world flight.
During World War II, Mantz served in the Army Air Corps' Motion Picture Unit. His team produced both training films and documentaries on the air war. He developed several innovations to improve aerial photography, much of which he applied to his post war career when he increasingly added aerial director of photography to his credits.
He was a three time winner of the Bendix aeronautical racing trophy. His work in flight can be seen in such films as ‘The Bride Came C.O.D.' in 1941; ‘Twelve O'Clock High' in 1949; ‘Around the World in Eighty Days' in 1956; and ‘It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World' in 1963.
Mantz came out of semi-retirement to fly the Phoenix P-1 for the film ‘Flight of the Phoenix' in 1965. After several days of practice flights with the temperamental plane, Mantz finally flew for the cameras. After one take was finished, the director ordered a second, and Mantz circled for another run. The aircraft undercarriage struck a sandy hillock. Mantz throttled up and broke free of the sand and the craft traveled another hundred yards, but the impact had broken the back of the aircraft. The plane broke in two, and tumbling across the desert floor. Mantz was killed instantly. His biography ‘Hollywood Pilot - The biography of Paul Mantz,' by Don Dwiggins, was published in 1967.
Bio by: Iola